Trader John Rice Hughes

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Trader John Rice Hughes

Also Known As: "Capt. / Trader Hughes"
Birthdate: (93)
Birthplace: Isle of Anglesey, Wales
Death: Died in Henrico, Henrico County, Virginia
Cause of death: Unknown
Immediate Family:

Son of John Hughes and Mary Hughes
Husband of Elizabeth Hughes; Nicketti "She Who Sweeps the Dew from the Flowers" Hughes (Powhatan) and Susanna Hughes
Father of Samuel Judson Hughes; Mathias Hughes; Jesse Hughes; Rees Hughes, Jr; Nathaniel Davis Hughes and 6 others
Brother of Mary Elizabeth Ellis

Occupation: Ship Captain
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Trader John Rice Hughes

This John could not have been the son of Sir John by Mary Griffith named John because they were born about three generations after this John. The son of Sir John by Mary Griffith named John was a religious minister in Llandegfan and Beaumaris who married Grace Bulkeley (daughter of Robert of Gronant) on July 16, 1754; this is shown on Stirnet's "Hughes04" page (membership required to view without interruption) and "Bulkeley06" page (membership required to view without interruption).

Date of birth might be 1625.

Hughes was the first permanent settler in Amherst Co. Va. He and his Indian wife established a trading post on the north side of the James River, west of the Tobacco Row Mountains (circa late 1600's). His wife was a niece to Pocahontas.

First name of ...Trader... Hughes is thought to be John, however, it has not been confirmed. Other researchers suspect the name may have been Rees or Rice. Most references mention him as ...Trader... Hughes, giving no first name. It is said by some that he came from a ...notable Colonial Family of Virginia.... Some historical references describe him as a Scotsman, others say he was an English cavalier.

Traders began to move their goods along the upper James River around 1720. According to Alexander Brown in his 1895 book, ...Cabells and Their Kin..., Hughes was the first known white man to open a post for Indian trade above ...the falls.... He built his cabin deep in the silent forests along the Blue Ridge. Hughes traded with the local Monacan Indians and was accepted by them because of his wife's heritage.

The stone chimney attached to the trading post was a well established landmark and was used as a reference point for many surveys done by William Cabell. Part of the chimney remains today.

On November 7, 1999, [Vince Hughes] sought out the old remains of the Trader Hughes cabin and trading post. The location was found just off the trail around Otter Lake at coordinates 37.55627 degrees North by 79.35203 degrees West. The ruins are just off the hiking trail and covered by thick growth. All that remain are the bottom 4 feet of the chimney and a raised earthen outline of the building's foundation.

Trader Hughes' grandson, Robert Davis developed a second trading post further down the James River at the mouth of the Pedlar River.

The Trader Hughes Story (one version) THE LEGEND:

Most histories of Amherst County, Va recount the first settler in the area as being an Indian trader known as ...Trader Hughes.... He, along with his Indian wife, Nicketti, established a trading post on the James River about a half-mile west of the mouth of Otter Creek. This location was where several Indian paths intersected and near the river access to the ...Valley of Virginia.... This must have been a busy intersection by 1700 standards!

According to Dr. William Cabell, HUGHES had the first stone chimney in the area, which qualified him at the first permanent settler. Hughes' wife, Nicketti, was the great grand daughter of the legendary Indian Chief Opechanacanough Powhatan and niece to Pocahontas.

Trader HUGHES and his wife had a daughter named Mary Elizabeth HUGHES, who was born in Jamestown about 1654. She married an Welsh settler named Nathaniel Davis about 1680. They had a daughter in 1711 named Abadiah Davis who married William Floyd and their grandson, John Floyd played an important part of the formation of Amherst Co. and later became governor of Va.

THE FACTS: .... The property is described as located on Harris Creek near a small branch known as Fawn Creek in present day Amherst Co. (not far from the Tobacco Row Mountains).

The ...Executives Journals of the Council of Colonial Virginia..., V. 5, page 136, gives the 1743 patent of George Carrington for 6000 acres on both sides of Harris Creek on the north side of the Fluvanna River in then Goochland County. Page 249 of this book gives the petition of George Carrington to include the adjoining patents of John Floyd and Orlando Hughes in his acreage.

So we have a HUGHES owning land on Harris Creek as early as 1743. We know from Albemarle and Amherst County deeds that both George Carrington & Orlando HUGHES were of Cumberland Co. We know that George Carrington of Cumberland Co sold land on Harris Creek to James Crews, and that James Crews sold land on branches of Harris Creek to William Hughes. We know that one of the witnesses to this deed was John Floyd and a John Floyd was an adjoiner to the patents of Orlando HUGHES and George Carrington. We know that William HUGHES had a son named Orlander - probably his eldest son. Orlando HUGHES died in Cumberland Co in 1768, naming sons Josiah, Anthony, Caleb and Leander. A Micajah HUGHES was a witness to the will.

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Notes from HUGHES Msg Board: Re: Rees or Rice Hughes, wife Nicketti Posted by: Nancy Kiser (ID *****7729) Date: December 24, 2004 at 15:01:39 In Reply to: Rees or Rice Hughes, wife Nicketti <10390.html> by Billie Harris of 10893

......The following is from Chapter 10 ...Traditions of the First Settlers of Old Amherst County... from a book entitled ...Tuckahoes and Cohees: The Settlers and Cultures of Amherst and Nelson Counties 1607-1807... by Catherine Seaman.

...Living far from the courthouse of old Henrico, the first settlers often failed to patent the land they settled, leaving more oral traditions than courthouse documents to tell us their story. Traditions have it that as early as 1710-1720, a man known only as Trader Hughes lived with his Indian wife in his trading post built along the banks of the upper James River near Otter Creek. He was among the first white settlers, if not the first, to settle that part of the county, then the wild frontier of old Henrico County.

Who was Trader Hughes? Several men by the name of Hughes had arrived in the Colony in the 1630s, but which Hughes had made his way to the banks of Otter Creek near the borders of old Amherst is not yet known. Neither does anyone know where Hughes met his wife, both may have come from the Tidewater, or Hughes may have been a trader in the western area before he met her. In any case, Hughes was safe enough among the remaining Indians to locate his trading post close to the Indian path that followed the James River through the Blue Ridge to the Warrior's Path. He had the skills to construct a trading post and a stone chimney that lasted for years. Dr. William Cabell, qualifying as assistant surveyor of Albemarle in 1746, used the chimney as a landmark to locate his earliest surveys, and the old chimney continued to appear as a boundary marker in the deeds for many years. As late as 1977, the McLeRoys report the ruins of a massive, two-story log building in the woods behind Otter Lake that they took to be the remains of Hughes's trading post.

Hughes's wife, according to traditions in the Floyd family, was a descendant of Powhatan's brother, Opechancanough (Brown, 1895: 46-47; 57-58; Woods, 1901: 49). Murdered after the Indian uprising of 1644, Opechancanough left a young daughter, ...the child of his old age,... named Princess Nicketti - 'she sweeps the dew from the flowers,' who clandestinely married an unnamed member of an old ...Cavalier... family. Brown writes that ...he fell in love with her and she with him............. ...........There was indeed a Rees/Rice Hughes who patented land in Tidewater Virginia in the 1600s. Here are some of his land patents, original copies of which can be found on-line at the Library of Virginia:

8 March 1652. 200 acres on the north side of the Yorke River behind the land of George Gills in the main woods. Due for the transportation of John Williams, Robert Symons, Thomas Price and Hugh Griffin. No county name given but this land was probably located in what became New Kent County in 1654. Rice Hughes later assigned this patent to George Smith.

2 December 1656. 410 acres more of less on the southwest side of the York River in the County of New Kent adjoining the land of George Smith and Mr. Langstone. Due for the transportation of 9 persons including John Morely, Eliz. Harwood, Griffith Jones, Jane Urlin, Martin Weele, Margarett & Jno.

1 March 1657. 860 acres in New Kent County including his previous grant of 410 acres together with 450 acres adjoining, part thereof on the southwest side of the York River adjoining George Smith?s corner tree.

28 January 1662. 860 acres in New Kent County formerly granted to him in 1657 and now re-granted. (It was not uncommon for persons who had received grants during the time of Oliver Cromwell?s Commonwealth to take a re-grant after the Restoration of Charles II, in order to be sure of preserving title to their land.)

I can?t find another patent issued to Rees/Rice Hughes until 1693, which is a gap of 31 years. I suspect that the Rees/Rice Hughes of 1693 was the grandson of the original Rees/Rice Hughes and probably the son of Robert Hughes. The reason I believe this is because a Robert Hughes took out a patent for 855 acres in New Kent County in 1682 which was due for the transportation of 18 persons including Rees Hughes Jr and Elizabeth Hughes. My guess is that Robert Hughes, the son of the original Rees/Rice Hughes, went back to England to find a wife and then returned to Virginia with wife Elizabeth and son Rees Jr. When Rees Jr. grew up, he appears to have in turn named a son Robert. They lived in the New Kent/Henrico County area of Virginia and appear to have been Quakers, as can be seen from the following records from Volume IV of The Encyclopedia of Quaker Genealogy:

?A scrutiny of the Register of St. Peter?s parish which begins in 1686 is revealing in that it names many men living in Henrico, New Kent and the territory that later became Hanover, Caroline and Louisa Counties whose names also appear frequently in the Quaker records. Among these are: Charles Fleming, John Realy (Raley), Thomas Moorman, James Woody, Rice Hughes, Richmond Terrell, Sisilly Ellison, Alexander Mackeney, Thomas Stanley, Thomas Harris, William and John Johnson, Robert Ellison, Garret Robert Elleson, Robert Hughes and others. How many of these were Quakers in 1686 it is impossible to say, though some were, as a matter of fact, while others may have been ?convinced? at a later date.?1699/1700, 12, 9. Edward Huyghs gave 500 lbs of tobacco toward the building of a new MH at Curles. 1700, 2, 12. Rice Huyghs condemned for misconduct. 1700, 2, 28. Rice Hughes signed a certificate of a marriage in New Kent County. 1700, 2, 28. Robert Huyghes signed a cert of a marriage held in New Kent County; first time name appeared. 1700, 2, 28. Sarah Hughes Sr. signed a cert of a marriage held in Black Creek MH. 1701, 4, 6. Rice Hughes complained of for his misconduct; condemned for same & placed on probation. 1703/4, 1, 18. Rachel Hughes signed mtg book as a token that she was in unity with this MM as held. 1703, 10, 10. Sarah Hughes Senior & Junior signed a certificate of a marriage held in Henrico County. 1703, 10, 10. Stephen Hughes signed a certificate of a marriage at Wm. Porter?s house, Henrico County. 1705/6, 11, 19. Rice Hughes disowned. 1706/7, 12, 15. Edward Hughes ordered to remove obstacles that caused disturbance or he will be disowned. 1710, 6, 23. Stephen Hughes signed certificate of a marriage at New Kent MH. 1710, 4, 17. Robert Hughes proven a member of this MM when his vote was recorded. 1710, 6, 23. Robert Sr, Robert Jr and Sarah Hughes signed certificate of a marriage held in New Kent. 1711, 4, 8. John Atkinson resigned as clerk of MM having quarreled with Samuel Jordan; MM books turned over to Robert Hughes & G.R. Elyson. Atkinson mentioned that Hughes & Elyson were his friends & were responsible for his appointment as Clerk; he seemed to be a member of the New Kent PM. 1713/14, 12, 12. Sarah Hughes Jr. liberated to marry Thomas Atkinson.

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More Notes from Nancy Kiser by a post-em 2005-01-17 11:06:58 in her words.......: First, let me say that I think this entire legend is probably a bunch of romantic nonsense. Although there may have been an Indian trader named Hughes who lived on the upper James River in the early 1700s, I doubt very much that his wife was the descendant of the legendary and perhaps mythical Nicketti. Also, although many Indian traders had Indian ?wives? as well as white wives, the unions that they entered into with Indian women were not considered legal marriages back in those days. In fact, interracial marriages were illegal. People were very bigoted back then, much worse than today, if you can believe it."

I have found further evidence in the early records of colonial Virginia which indicate that Rees/Rice Hughes had a white wife named Susanna. These records also indicate that Rees/Rice Hughes may have bought an Indian girl, which probably accounts for the legend that he "married" the Indian Princess Nicketti. Rees/Rice Hughes may have had children with the Indian girl that he bought, but he certainly didn't "marry" her. Interracial marriages were not permitted at this time in the colony of Virginia. I know the actual facts not as pretty as the legend, but I think we need to be truthful about the past. Here are the additional citations that I have found:

From page 357 Charles City County Court Orders 1661-1664: January 9, 1662: We whose names are hereunto subscribed being upon the Jury concerning the death of John Prise do find to the best of our knowledge that the said John Prise did come to his untimely end by the reason of his running away from his Mr. Rice Hoe and so was starved for want of victuals which running away we do apprehend was by the means of the sad stripes that appeared upon his body given him by his Mrs. Susanna Hoe upon the 2nd of January but we do not find any mortal wound upon him. Daniel Clarke, Neal Sincler, ffer. Aston, Wm Gillum, Rich. Bradford, John Hattly, Tho. Calloway, Tho Turner, Phillp Owen, Tho. Richard, Jeoffrey Momford, Jno Parish.

From page 359 Charles City County Court Orders 1661-1664: Bee it knowne to all whom this may concerne that I Manwairing Hamond of Riccohocke Esqr out of the confidence and trust I repose in my trusty and welbeloved friends the Hono?ble ffrancis Morison Esqr, Mr Theoderick Bland, Capt Tho. Stegge, Major Joseph Croshaw and Mr. Stephen Hamelyn doe appoint and constitute the same persons my true and lawfull attornies to oversee all the estate reall and personall I leave behind me in Virginia and they or any thereof them to have hereby power to lett or make sayle of it?this 2 day of June 1662. Signed M. Hammond. Witnesses: George Morris, Sam Huckstepp, ___ Woodward, Rees Hughes.

From page 361 Charles City County Court Orders 1661-1664: The Court hath passed judgment (according to an obligation produced in Court) agst Rice Hoe for 14-1 sterling money to be pd by bills of exchange and secured by the sd Hoe to the use of Major General Manwaring Hammond Esqr or his ass?s or attorneys according to the sd obligation with all costs to be pd by the sd Hoe als exec.

From page 361 Charles City County Court Orders 1661-1664: Theoderick Bland Esqr for Major General Manwaring Hammond Esqr admitteth and confesseth judgement against the estate of the sd Major General Hamond to secure and justify the service of an Indian Girl by him sold to the said Hoe according to a contract under the hands of Rees Hughes agent for the sd Major General Manwaring Hammond als exec. Birth: 1615 in Scotland Death: 1680 in Henrico, Virginia, USA

Father: Sir John HUGHES b: 1590 in Yorkshire, England

Marriage 1 Princess Nicketti POWHATAN b: BEF 1644 in Virginia, USA Sealing Spouse: 10 DEC 1997 in JRIVE Married: Children

Anne HUGHES b: ABT 1662 in of New Kent, Virginia, USA
Mary Elizabeth HUGHES b: 1660 in Henrico, Virginia, USA
John HUGHES b: 1663 in of New Kent, Virginia, USA
Robert HUGHES b: 1653 in of New Kent, Virginia, USA
Rees HUGHES b: 1657 in of New Kent, Virginia, USA

Marriage 2 Mrs. Susanna HUGHES


Middle name sometimes given as "Rees".

John Rice Hughes was a Welsh fur trader who built his trading post near the trading road in the valley near Otter Creek. He was the first white man to live in this area and the first to make any real contact with the Monaan people near present day Lynchburg. It is thought he was not harmed by the Indians because of his wife's heritage. In 1742, an army of scouts explored a 45-mile-radius area preceeding the developement of the Hat Creek Presbyterian Colony (presently, Campbell Co.). They found only one aged white man in the area, maybe Hughes, although he is believed to have died before 1700.

From an unidentified source: "a Virginia cavalier" (see for explanation)


Peter W. Houck and Mintcy D. Maxham, Indian Island in Amherst County, (Lynchburg, VA: Warwick House Pub., 1993), 31.

Robert Hughes that was the husband of Sarah Tarleton. Sarah's will is posted in Deed Book 1, p. 188: Will of Sarah Hughes of St. James Parish, Henrico County, dated 8 January 1723, proved 19 May 1730: 1) son Stephen 2) son Robert 3) Ashford Hughes 4) daughter Sarah Atkinson 5) daughter Elizabeth Liles 6) daughter Mary Hughes 7) son Isaac Hughes 8) granddaughter Elizabeth Cannon

Her husband was Robert Hughes, b. c1650, d. abt 1720, Henrico Co., VA. At that time, Henrico extended below the James River. Later, Goochland (formed from Henrico 1728) took over that territory and was on both sides of the James River. In 1749 Cumberland Co. was formed from Goochland (the part south of the James River) and took in the land that is now Powhatan Co. (which was formed in 1777 from Cumberland). The area where Robert Hughes lived is now Powhatan Co., VA and his home place was on Hughes Creek, a short creek just east of US 522.

The Robert Hughes family were Quakers. There are numerous references to Robert, Sarah, and some of their children in the Henrico County Friends Meeting Records shortly before 1700 up until about 1711 when Robert (who owned land, and probably lived in what is now Hanover Co., VA near Mechanicsville)moved his family south of the James River.

Robert was the son of Rees (Reese, Reece, Rice, Ricc) Hughes, Sr., who most likely immigrated to Virginia about 1649 and settled near Black Creek in what is now northwest New Kent Co. near what was (by 1700) the Old Swayback'd or Broken Back'd Anglican Church of St. Peter's Parish which was close to present-day Tunstall. Rees Hughes, Sr. donated 100 acres to the St. Peter's Parish Church as Glebe land about 1698, not long before he died. I am of the opinion that Rees Sr. was probably a Quaker for a while also, but just before he died he returned to the Anglican Church (which may be why he donated the 100 acres--trying to make up for his having departed from the faith of his youth). At any rate, it was the controversy over the 100 acres that Rees Hughes, Sr. donated to the Church that we know Robert Hughes (who m. Sarah Tarleton)was the son of Rees Hughes. After Rees' death, Robert set about reclaiming that land which Rees Hughes, Sr. had donated to the Church. The St. Peter's Parish Church Records specifically mention that Robert was the son of Rees Hughes who had donated the land. (Robert didn't get the land, but received over a ton of tobacco for it).

There is no record of Rees Hughes, Sr. (b. c1625, probably England) ever having traveled to Virginia. I think he was brought over by Colonel Manwaring Hammond about 1649. Col. Hammond brought over some 60 individuals (none of whom are named) and for doing so, he received about 3,000 acres along the York River in what was then York Co., but became New Kent Co. in 1654. His land ran along the York River up to Black Creek (where the St Peter's Parish Church was, and where Rees Hughes, Sr. had his land). Rees Hughes, Sr. served as Col Hammond's legal agent, preparing contracts and signing as a witness to the Colonel's transactions. It appears to me that Colonel Hammond and Rees Hughes may have had a previous professional relationship back in England (such as commander and adjutant--administrative officer). Colonel Hammond was an officer in the King's Army against Cromwell's Army during the English Civil War. In early 1649 King Charles I was executed and a mass exodus of his supporters left England for Virginia. They were called Cavaliers in Virginia. Colonel Hammond was a favorite of Governor Berkeley who made him THE Major General of Virginia and put him on the Governor's Council. After the Restoration of King Charles II in 1660, Col. Hammond returned to England, and some time after that the Quakers began converting many Virginians to that religion. There was a Quaker Meeting House further up Black Creek from where Rees Hughes, Sr. lived, and where his family (at least some of them) attended.

Rees Hughes, Sr. had (for sure)sons: Robert, b. c1650; Rees Hughes, Jr., b. c1655. Both of these men were Quakers (but Rees Jr. got kicked out of their fellowhship sometime after 1701. I believe that William Hughes, b. c1660 was another son of Rees Hughes, Sr. This is the William Hughes who built the Brick Church (still standing and active) of St Peter's Parish, New Kent Co. in the very early 1700's. The Brick Church is about 4 miles southeast of where the Old Swayback'd Church was. I can find no other Hughes besides Rees Hughes, Sr. in the immediate area who would qualify as the father of William, the Church Builder.

Forrest Mullins (I claim Rees Hughes Sr., Rees Jr., and Anthony Hughes (b. c1685, d. 1760 Lunenburg Co., Va) as my ancestors.

Original Source Page Name: 114 Rees Hughes 1656 Comment: 410 acres

Original Source Page Name: 279 Rees Hughes 1657 Comment: 860 acres

Original Source Page Name: 558 Rees Hughes 1662 Comment: 860 acres

Source: All Virginia County Records, Volume VI results for Rees Hughes,New Kent County, Book No. 4.


Date and place of birth have also been (erroneously?) reported to be circa 1699 in Henrico County, Virginia.

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Trader John Rice Hughes's Timeline

Isle of Anglesey, Wales
Age 15
Age 17
Virginia, United States
Age 21
Virginia, United States
Age 25
New Kent, Virginia
Age 25
Age 29
Jamestown, James City County, Virginia
Age 30
New Kent, New Kent County, Virginia, United States
Age 34
New Kent, New Kent County, Virginia, United States